Rays vs Astros score: Tampa wins AL pennant as Houston’s historic comeback attempt fails in Game 7

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The 2004 Red Sox can make champagne burst. They are still the only team in MLB history to come back from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series. The Tampa Bay Rays won the American League pennant with a victory over the Astros of Houston in ALCS Game 7 on Saturday night (VG 4, HOU 2). Tampa led the series 3-0, but the Astros forced Game 7 with wins in Games 4, 5 and 6.Charlie Morton ended his old team in Game 7, holding the Astros scoreless for 5 2/3 innings before giving way to the bullpen. Randy Arozarena and Mike Zunino’s homers gave Tampa a cushion they were able to heal the rest of the time. The Astros gave the green light to the plate in the eighth inning, but in the end, it was too little, too late.

The Astros have now seen their season end in a heartbreaking way in Game 7 in consecutive years. Last season, the Nationals came back late in the inning to win Game 7 of the World Series. This season, Houston’s attempt to return from a 3-0 series deficit has failed.

Here are the takeaways from the Rays’ victory in Game 7.

Arozarena succeeded again

Randy Arozarena is Atlas. His teammates give him little offensive help, so he continues to make huge dingers. Arozarena opened the scoring in Game 7 with a two-run home run in the first set. It was his seventh homer in 14 playoff games.

The circuit came on a fastball over the plate and it’s kind of amazing teams always throwing Arozarena heaters. According to James Smyth, researcher at YES Network, Arozarena is 10 for 20 with a triple and five homers against fastballs this playoffs (.500 batting average and 1.350 slugging percentage). That means he’s 11 for 32 with three doubles and two homers against everything else (0.344 and 0.625). It’s always awesome! But not as big as his numbers against fastballs. Arozarena’s seven home runs are the most a rookie has ever made in a single playoff, breaking a tie with former Ray Evan Longoria (2008). Only three players have made more homeruns in a single playoff:

  1. Barry Bonds, 2002 Giants: 8 hours
  2. Carlos Beltran, Astros 2004: 8 hours
  3. Nelson Cruz, Rangers 2011: 8 hours
  4. Several tied with 7 HR, including Arozarena

Additionally, Arozarena now has 21 playoff hits, tying him to Yuli Gurriel (2017) for second overall by a rookie in a single playoff. Derek Jeter had 22 hits as a rookie in the 1996 playoffs. Arozarena went 8 for 28 (.286) with four homers in the series.

Morton dominated his former team

For the first time in MLB history, two players who pitched as teammates in a win-all game faced off as opposing starters in another win-all game. Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. pitched against the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS, then faced off in Game 7 of the ALCS 2020. Morton is just the sixth pitcher to face his former team in a winner’s take-out playoff. The list:

  • Charlie Morton, Spokes: ALCS 2020 vs. Astros
  • CC Sabathia, Yankees: 2017 ALDS contre Cleveland
  • Roger Clemens, Yankees: 2003 ALCS contre Red Sox
  • Pete Vuckovich, Brewers: World Series 1982 against the Cardinals
  • Jerry Reuss, Dodgers: 1981 NLDS c. Astros
  • Lew Burdette, Braves: World Series 1957 and 1958 against Yankees

Morton jostled his former teammates in Game 7. His fastball averaged 95.3 mph, his highest average early game speed since last year’s Wild Card Game, and his number of shots per set was magnificent: 11, 12, 7 13, 6, 17. He was dominant and efficient, and at one point, he pulled out 14 straight Astros. Morton has allowed just one earned run in each of his last five playoff starts, the second longest streak in history (Curt Schilling has had six in a row). Houston has never had anything against the right-hander. Morton was already the only pitcher in baseball history to score a win in three take-out winner’s playoff games (2017 ALCS Game 7, 2017 World Series Game 7, and 2019 AL Wild Card Game). Now he has a fourth win in a game-winning game to his credit.

McCullers, on the other hand, ceded the homerun two runs to Arozarena and a second-run solo homerun to Mike Zunino. Those were the only three runs he allowed, but he needed 75 shots to get 11 outs and didn’t complete four innings. The Houston relievers box worked hard in games 4-6 and Jose Urquidy gave up an insurance run on a sacrificed sixth inning.

The spokes go to the World Series

For the second time in franchise history. They went to the World Series in 2008 but lost to the Phillies, so they’re still looking for their first championship. Tampa will face the winner of Sunday night Game 7 between the Braves and the Dodgers. The first game of the World Series is scheduled for Tuesday night at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The Rays are yet to announce their launch plans, although Tyler Glasnow is lining up to kick off Game 1 with an extra day off. He will likely receive the ball on Tuesday.

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